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February 13, 2008

The Holiday Men Love to Forget

The Holiday Men Love to Forget

By Elaine Viets

Don always showed how much he loved me with wonderful Valentine presents. Our third Valentine’s Day, he gave me a single red Thunderbird. The next year, it was the perfect pair of gold earrings, tasteful yet sexy. I knew the fifth year would only get better.

It had to. I was 26 and worried. I’d found my first gray hair and yanked that sucker out. But the frost of old age was closing in. At least I had a hot romance to warm my heart.

I waited hopefully all day while delivery people came through my office carrying flowers

and chocolates – for other women

I didn’t care. Don didn’t go for crude displays. I knew he had something more intimate in mind. At last, the office day was done. I sat through dinner at home, waiting for him to bring out a pretty surprise.

It didn’t happen. By midnight, I knew the truth: He forgot it was February 14. I sobbed, my life turning as gray as my hair.

"You don’t love me any more," I cried. "How could you? I didn’t ask for anything expensive. Just one rose."

Don was hurt and puzzled. "I forgot," he said. He thought I’d be impressed by this manly admission.

I wasn’t.

He tried reason. "It doesn’t mean I don’t love you," he said. "I’ve remembered every other holiday, birthday and anniversary. I sent you a dozen red roses for your birthday. I sent them to your office, too."

He’d understood that a present was also a trophy.

"Your birthday was nine days ago," he said. "All I do is buy presents – for Christmas, your birthday and now Valentine’s Day. They’re too damn close together."

"It’s not my fault I was born in February," I sobbed. "I hate it. It’s always cold."

Don looked stricken. He promised to make it up to me.

Next morning, I heard a buzz in my office. A delivery man staggered in under a flower arrangement about four feet tall. It looked like it had escaped from a mob funeral. Garish orange birds of paradise were mixed with bizarre purple and red blooms that looked like bath brushes and sex toys. In the center of this psychosexual nightmare was a gigantic foam cupid wearing a purple ribbon that said, "Love."

I was stunned by its grossness.

"Who sent that?" the office troublemaker asked.

"Don." I was so horrified, I could hardly say his name.

"Guess he showed you, huh?" a ferret-faced manager added. "Next year you’ll be glad when he forgets Valentine’s Day."

Don called half an hour later. "So, what did you think?" he asked.

"I think I never want to talk to you again," I said, and hung up. He’d called to gloat over my shame. I knew it.

I left work early, taking the wretched flowers with me. All the way home, I thought about where I’d ram one particular weed that looked like a Roto-Rooter.

When I walked in the door with the hideous heap of hell flowers, Don looked startled. Then he started laughing. He wrapped his arms around me, and the whole story came out.

Don felt so guilty about forgetting Valentine’s Day that he went to a city florist and plunked down fifty pre-Carter-inflation dollars. He asked for "something spectacular."

Unfortunately, the florist specialized in mob funerals, political dinners and other crass occasions. Their idea of spectacular went more for size than style.

Suddenly, the whole episode was funny. All was forgiven.

That year, I got a gift that was priceless –- and unforgettable.


Gentlemen, you have less than 24 hours to come up with a Valentine’s Day present for the woman you love. One perfect chocolate. A single red rose. Please don’t forget. It’s important.


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I need to make Dear Hubby read that one!

It puts my sitting on a bench outside of the Hallmark store waiting for him to pick out the card to shame. He had to borrow a pen from the clerk to sign it. And he actually asked me if I wanted to pick it out.

As my aunt sent to us when we were young (and they were newly married): Happy VD Day everyone!

I remember that florist, I think - down near the Old Courthouse, always with bizarre cello-wrapped fruit baskets and big honkin' styro-floral displays in the window.

Harry The Horse sat at the cash register.

Our wedding anniversary is Leap Day, so ML and I have given each other one perfect blue Holland American Line ticket. Not quite a single perfect red Thunderbird . . . surely not as fast, and much harder to park . . . but not bad.

A Thunderbird? Damn, Don.

Geez, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the only kind of Thunderbirds were cars and rotgut booze.

Elaine is right - and this goes for men and women. You don't have to lug home a 25-pound box of candy or a floral arrangement from the Kentucky Derby.

You don't even have to pick out a card - although those new Hallmark ones with the music are great.

You just have to remember - his or her favorite candy bar, or special coffee will do.

What if she really wants a small appliance, such as a blender? Or we really need a new washer and dryer? Nothing says "love" like a set of matching Whirlpool Duet's, sky blue trim, with the pedastal bases.

I don't know, Josh. I suppose if you mutually agree to buy appliances for Valentine's Day. But that sounds like a household expense to me. Did you buy her appliances before you were married? "Look sweetheart, it has 10 settings, from hot to max cool." Couldn't you throw a rose on top?

Can I just opine about those heart-shaped pendant necklaces from the mall? Unless you are in the 2nd grade or your loved one writes romance novels---no. No, no, no.

I want to publicly announce that William has sent me (with his wife's blessing, I'm certain) a huge bag of coffee and multiple bags of Oreos, with various frostings. It wasn't for Valentine's Day, but it was close. And we're not even having sex.

For all the Singles out there, may there be a William in your life.

Yum. Oreos. There's a man who understands.
I've bought Don six pounds of his favorite Kenyan roast coffee. It has to be special ordered and he's addicted.

If I get anything from Chuck for Valentine's Day I'll be shocked. I'm lucky he remembers birthdays and anniversaries...and things like getting a new tag for his car(which he doesn't until I remind him). We might go out out for steak or prime rib, but after 40 years we've pretty much exhausted presents :)
Maybe I'll give him a duck or two from Heifer International, and some Oreos!

(laughing) The Lovely Ms. Kozak left out a critical component of the Oreos/Coffee package. With everything else she has going on, Harley graciously read some material I am working on, offered some incredibly insightful comments (3 pages worth!), made it a better story, and helped me become a better writer. She EARNED that package.

As far as not having sex, well, Ms. K, catch me in my Next Life, maybe we could start with dinner and a movie...:)

(And yes, The Boss picked out the Oreoes, I handled the coffee selection; a fair division of labor...:))

I think the Oreos and coffee, and the help for writing, is a wonderful thing. Very sweet.

Harley, you sure know how to get a guy in trouble, because if William hadn't shown up with a valid explanation, he was going to get one hell of a "Where's MY coffee and Oreo's package, ya bum?" note from me! And probably every other woman here.

Now, I can just tell you to enjoy them.

Blond Bond is sending me flowers. They will arrive tomorrow. I'm sure he won't forget this time, and they will be beautiful, I just know it.

I agree! Harley and William, that story warms my heart, as does Elaine's.

OK, Maryann, I'll bite. What's a duck from Heifer International?
What do cows have to do with ducks?

Valentine's Day is my husband's and my soon to be 6 year old daughter's birthday, so it's been understood for a while that it just can't about me. Though a "single wed wose" to quote Lillian Von Schtup would be lovely.

Also, if it plugs in, it's not a gift, unless the receiver explicitly asked for said item.

My dear husband, as we approached our first set of holidays together, very sensibly asked me to outline the expectations for Christmas, birthday, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day (somehow we both always manage to forget our anniversary -- long story). For Valentine's Day, all I expect is a card and something small -- a sampler of good chocolates, a CD, a gift certificate to the book store, an inexpensive bouquet of supermarket flowers. I usually buy him a good bottle of vodka.

Anyway, it turns out that he has an amazing gift -- he picks out THE BEST cards in the world: funny, romantic, and usually personalized with extra text that he adds by hand. I treasure each and every one, and have four of the really special ones framed in my office.

He's the best . . .

Kerry, that is a sensible approach to saving your marriage. What a smart couple you are. Congratulations.
Also, if anyone wants to give chocolate, but is worried about calories, may I recommend Godiva chocolate pearls? Only 200 calories for the whole box and not very expensive, either.

Elaine, good information there, but I sense blowback potential. "Diet Godiva? DIET Godiva? Are you saying I look fat? Is that it? Well, just let me tell you something, buster . . . "

Then there are the men that don't want anything close to 'commitment'!
After not hearing from Bob for a few days, I called him. 'Oh, he's just laying low'
Yes, I had 3 big brothers so I know that game. Disappear the week before Vday, then the next week say you weren't feeling well or 'forgot'.
That don't fly! If you turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or turn on the radio, you know when Vday is! (plus, I've been busy on the e card sites and his computer will be flooded with E valentines tomorrow LOL)
He'll stay home tomorrow to keep his son from having all his friends over for a hot tub party, but will be over for the weekend.
He'll be getting the glass stiletto's, Elaine! LOL

Godiva Pearls are by the register at B&N and were buy 2/ get 1 free and come in cute little tins, besides being yummy!

William, could you call my husband? Coffee and Oreos would be just the thing.

I finally had to call a cease and desist on stuffed animals. Except for my Vermont Teddy Bear last year, because he's purple, and cute, and the box had an air hole. I'm 43, and have no room for any more. But he keeps wanting to buy them. Should I worry about what that means?

I certainly don't have to worry about what diamonds he'll bring home. That'll never happen.

Elaine - Heifer International is a really cool non-profit charity org that helps poor people develop livelihoods, using animals: rabbits, goats, heifers, bees, whatever is suitable for their climate and culture. When you donate, you can 'buy' an animal and its training to donate. The training part is key - they provide classes on how to care for the animal, make sure the recipient has suitable habitat for the animal etc. And each recipient agrees to "pass on the gift" - give the first offspring to another person in need. So it's a lovely snowball effect. Plus I like that they often target help to women in some less-women-friendly areas. And of course it's a great tool for teaching kids about caring for others and how to do so.

Anyway - you can also buy a duck, or cow, etc as a donation gift for someone. We did this a couple of Christmas ago for some community helpers - school bus driver, postal carrier, etc. And they all seemed to love it.

Go here for their site (am I allowed to post links? My apologies if not)

It's not too late to buy a duck or bees ("you're so sweet!") for your love, and print out a gift card from the site :)


Someone asked about Heifer International. It's an organization where one can purchase a farm animal and donate it to a needy person or group, usually overseas. A cow or a goat can make an enormous difference in the life of a poor village:


Kerry, I'm going to cut & paste that to my 23yr old daughter. She has found her "soul mate"...she has been dating him for 1 month! I asked her what she was planning to get him for VDay and she said, "Nothing but a card. I'm cooking for him, that is enough." To clarify...she doesn't know how to cook much past potroast and tuna cassarole. She said she told him not to get her anything extravagent since they haven't known each other long.

Lord, what did we do right with that child? :-)

Now, Cheryl, I can think of a couple of things that you could plug in that would be considered great Valentine's gifts.

For those with foodies in your life, there is a cookbook called "InterCourses" with downright sexy descriptions of food. by Martha somebody? and Randall Lockridge.
BTW where is Margie today? I'm sure she has some interesting gift suggestions!!!!

My husband is due to arrive home after midnight on Thursday from Ft. Bragg. I told him the only thing I want is him home safe.

Darling Ramona-

With sincere apologies, I'm afraid I'll be late again this year. Serving at the pleasure of Her Majesty often necessitates last-minute emergencies, and I fear I have been called away on assignment. Rest assured, that night in Istanbul will carry me through whatever dangers I may face.

With affection,

When I was dating my husband, the joke was that green M&M's make you horny. So, for the two weeks preceding Valentine's day, I picked green M&M's out of sacks and sacks of candy. I made my students eat all the ones that weren't green. (They didn't mind helping me at all!). On Valentine's Day, I gave my hubby a jar of nothing by green M&M's. This was WAY before I could just go online and order a boxload of green ones. My way took so effort.

But honestly, Valentine's Day just isn't that big of a deal for me. Never has been. We'll probably do dinner out.

But I LOVE your story Elaine. I literally laughed out loud reading it.

Last Valentine's Day, I got to watch my husband turn blue and stop breathing (they were able to revive him that time) and afterwards, I decided that this year, we'd erase that memory. Unfortunately that was our last Valentine's together. So, no matter how you remember your loved one on the day, just make sure they know you love them.

My guy has often commented on the fact that Valentines seems to be geared more for the female in the relationship, but he still does it right.

Last year, he had surgery which put him out of work for a few weeks, so he drove to my job (one hour each way) to deliver a bouquet, card and a very gaudy balloon. He wanted my coworkers to know how much he loved me.

Now, in reality, I am just as happy with a card from him. I have seen him in action, and know that he will take hours in needed to find just the perfect card. And then he forgot about my Christmas card this past year! Gasp!!! I even put my name on his list...

So, last week, I figured that it would be safe to ask if he had gotten me a card yet...just in case. He laughed and laughed, and told me that he had already gone to the 'nice' hallmark store (instead of Walmart), and found me the perfect card. Gift? Who knows, I never ask, but have received. Dinner? Hopefully...we gotta eat sometime.

I got him a card, and the gift of a coffee mug which came with his nickname already on it. I filled it with treats that he likes.

Oh, Shannon, you get a big hug & a box of Hershey kisses this year.

You are right. It is always the right thing to do to tell the people in your life you love them every day.

Shannon, thank you for that important reminder. A very dear friend of mine lost her then-18-year-old, pregnant daughter (and daughter's near-term baby) to eclampsia many years ago. Since that day, I've made sure to tell my daughter and husband that I love them every day.

Her Majesty, Her Majesty, that selfish old broad. Who does she think she is, the queen or something?

Shannon, I'm so sorry to hear this. Here's to better days, and many!

Kerry, you're absolutely right.

Shannon, so sorry for your loss.


OKay, I'm on my way home from the grocery store and pass through a part of my neighborhood that we, here in The Burgh, might call "sketchy." And walking along the sidewalk is a young man wearing an orange jumpsuit. With a parka over it, mind you. Should I have---I dunno--called somebody? Am I assuming he's also "sketchy?"

I didn't call 911 at the time, and now I'm wondering if I did the wrong thing. Better to make the call and feel stupid later, do you think?

Nancy, maybe it was someone who wanted to remember his valentine! Not a lot of shopping opportunities in jail, I guess.

When I was in NYC last week I saw a man clearly forcing a woman to go down the street with him. She had an expression that was a mixture of fear and resignation, and it was hard to tell if they were having a fight, or if she was being kidnapped, or what. I was equally torn about what to do. There was no way I could do anything, physically, and there was no visible police presence anywhere close by. The street was very busy, and by the time I made a decision to do something, anything, I could no longer see them, in the space of just a few seconds.

What would you have done? Anything? If I'd had some kind of weapon, I might have been confrontational, but it would still have been an enormous risk. The dude was big.

Bond! James Bond!

Where the hell are MY dozen roses, ya bum?

Cheryl, do batteries count? Or is this strictly an AC adaptor issue?

Harley, I thought you said you hadn't ever used a you-know-what. I was hoping to gift you one at Romantic Times, assuming I go.


Even a man of my considerable talents knows better than to compete with Oreos and coffee.

We'll always have Santa Barbara, though.


Kerry, I can relate to your anniversary forgetfulness. My husband and I continually forget about ours (it's between Thanksgiving & Christmas). However, this year I did remember early & bought myself a sapphire ring (not very expensive, but unusual setting & nice). The day I got it, I showed my husband & told him thanks. He was just glad he didn't have to even try to remember our anniversary! This is basically what I do at Christmas...buy what I want him to give me (within reason, of course). That way I'm always assured of getting what I want. So what am I getting for Valentine's Day? I don't know...I haven't bought it yet! :-)

You would think that after 30 years my dear hubby would know what I like...

1. gift certificate to my favorite needlework shop.
2. gift certificate to a bookstore.
any form of mint or chocolate.
3. since I collect Barbies, sit down with me on ebay and find out which one I want...no arguments.

I'm not that hard to please...most days.

Like the posters in the NYC subways say, "If you see something, say something." All you have to do is flip open your phone and call the police. After that it's up to them. If it's nothing, then it's nothing, but you won't have to wonder, and it won't be on your conscience.

It didn't even occur to me to use my cell phone, Michele. Now I feel awful, and hope someone else with quicker reflexes noticed them.

I owned an independant(non-Hallmark) card and gift shop for ten years (another reason why I love Wollie so much). My shop was called Sealed With A Kiss, and, since we were only five miles from Hershey PA, our 'hook' was to give everyone a Hershey Kiss with their receipt. We figured that, over the years, we probably doled out over 1800 lbs of Kisses.
Valentine's Day is,for the card and gift industry, what Black Friday is to the malls and the superstores. We made more during the second week of February than we did the entire month of December. But that 'cha-ching' came at a cost. The prep work, the 18 hour days... One year, the heater in the stockroom was out and I froze my butt off back there, grooming roses. At one point, I had cut my thumb and was so cold, it didn't bleed until I warmed up.
Attila-the-Husband and I didn't buy each other cards. We'd just take one from the rack, show it to each other, then put it back. Sounds bad, I know - but it made sense. Husband/wife cards were always the first sellouts.
Although I do sometimes miss my shop, I don't miss the insanity - or the angry guys who forgot what Feb 14th was until somebody at work reminded them - then had the nerve to be pissed off when they stopped on their way home and found long lines and limited selection.

Nancy - I've known people who actually BOUGHT orange jumpsuits and intentionally WORE them! I never could get into that...even if they were for UT sports games. Orange clashes with my hair. But in your Burgh? I dunno...could be fishy!

Renee, I know what you mean. I've been one of those dumb people that wait 'til the last minute (just one or two times...okay, maybe more) to get cards, and I usually hear at least one other fellow procrastinator grumbling about the lack of selection! Duh!!! You wait 'til the last minute, you get what no one else wants!

Those special plug in toys and battery adapted items are always welcome, in my book. It takes a special, confident someone to say I love/lust you with silicone plus attachments.

The no-plug in rule was instituted after I received a Dremel for Christmas one year.

Slightly off topic- the other day (at temple no less), someone said that vibrators were originally designed because Freudians would prescribe stimulation to their "neurotic"women. Has anyone ever heard that? I figure this group may know. We had a good laugh over the idea of going to the doctor, telling your tale of woe and then having them write a script for 20 orgasms.

Do you have the phone number of that doctor?

And I thought vibrators were just for holding beside your neck or for massaging your back...just like the ads in the magazines used to show! ;-)

Tom, have no fear. Godiva Pearls are not diet chocolate. You can get just as fat on them as any chocolate. They are just pearls. Very classy, for the woman who cannot control herself.

Thank you all for the link to Heifer.org.
I like the idea of buying a yak. Something I've never done.

Mr. Wonderful has a permanent pass on Valentine's gifts. For the past week my right leg has been encased, toes to knee in a massive plaster cast. The only time I'm allowed up is to hobble to the bathroom--an undertaking a lot like Hannibal getting those elephants over the Alps. Mr. Wonderful has cooked, cleaned, done laundry and washed my hair--AND supervised 5th grade math. None of my clothes are weird colors, my bangs don't stick up, and I've had real food--no take-out or frozen. He even even went to the bakery and bought cupcakes for the 5th grade Valentine party tomorrow on his own initiative.
He has 6 more weeks of this and he hasn't complained once. Beats the heck out of chocolates and roses in my book.

No kidding! You have a saint there, Darlene!

Thanks guys for cluing Elaine in about Heifer International...I went off to clean the bathroom, disappeared in a cloud og scrubbing bubbles, and ended up on a shopping trip to buy a new bath mat, shower curtain, and a squeegee thing that should prevent the accumulation of soap scum and water spots (assuming Chuck remembers to use it!). Then I took a nap. Catherine gave me half a llama for Christmas :o) I think it's a great way to give a gift and help a family in another country make some income.

Karen, to answer your question, I'm not sure what you could have done, especially since they disappeared so quickly. Barb D'Amato did a post on this very thing on The Outfit. You might have followed them and called 911, but in NYC I'm not sure what happens when you do that. Even here in cental Illinois it takes time, and if you're not familiar with the streets...

By the way, Happy Velentines early to you all!

Wow, Darlene! Toe to knee in a massive plaster cast! That sounds painful..what happened & how are you doing?

Darlene, he is wonderful. Hope you get un-plastered soon.

"I like the idea of buying a yak. Something I've never done."

We bought the younger son a sheep for Xmas for this very purpose - and, no, Reed and the sheep have never met, swapped Oreos or engaged in vibrating meeps.

I'm sorry to follow a yak comment with a vibrator comment, but:

Josh, I never said I used one. I'm just getting the rules straight. For, you know, the record.

I give....this whole yak/vibrator/meep thing is wayyyy too easy, and one prefers a sporting chance....

It sounds like Darlene's not the only one plastered around here.

Hey, William, if I can refrain from making comments about buying your son a sheep, you can show some self-control, too.

Harley, this is lawyer talk here. I didn't say that you said you used one, or at least, I didn't mean to say that. What I meant to say was that you said that you never had used one. But, as you mature, your tastes mature, and nothing says maturity like a suggestion from Josh.

"nothing says maturity like a suggestion from Josh."

That's one of the most frightening things I have ever read.

Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts. I feel lucky that one of the agreements my husband and I made when we got married was to never let a day go without saying we loved each other. Even when he couldn't repsond to me, I made sure I told him and it's one less regret I have about the way things turned out.


You're right. Dammit...:)

Arrrgghhhhh! You people! You give up too soon!

Turns out we bought Mr. Sonny-boy a goat from Heifer International, not a sheep, since ol' Wentworth is involved in church missions, and a person can make more money from a goat. The goat is living a productive life somewhere in Zimbabwe. Or St. Kitts. Somewhere hot enough the M&Ms melt in the bag.

Meanwhile, with three volumes of Life According to Wollie and the examples of The Master to inspire me, I'm about to start a new line of greeting cards: 'Joshing Thoughts, For People Old Enough To Know Better.'

Tom, glad you cleared that up and someone got your goat.

Hi, Elaine! Just wanted to let you know that your blog was mentioned in the latest installment of Carnival of the Criminal Minds:


Best wishes,
BV Lawson

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